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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New fields, amenities unveiled for baseball and softball amidst strong strong at-home streaks

Unveiled on April 7, the new Forbes Field includes an artifical turf surface, coverered dugouts and a raised left field fence.
Unveiled on April 7, the new Forbes Field includes an artifical turf surface, coverered dugouts and a raised left field fence.

Middlebury unveiled the latest addition to its athletic facilities on Sunday, April 7, as the baseball and softball teams gathered to celebrate their newly renovated, $2.8 million fields. The ceremony was attended by players, coaches, parents and donors ahead of the teams’ games.

The new fields are home to a variety of upgrades, including but not limited to a synthetic playing surface, a bullpen, batting cages and covered dugouts. For years, the baseball and softball teams vied with Middlebury’s many other programs for indoor field space in the winter months and were often relegated to irregular time slots. Now, with the traditional grass and dirt surface making way for artificial turf, the teams are able to play outdoors starting as early as February. 

Director of Athletics Erin Quinn ’86 was full of praise for the new installment.

“Playing with the snow in the background while the team was racking up runs was the realization of a longtime dream,” Quinn said to the small crowd in attendance at the fields’ unveiling. “Being able to provide this facility is a thrill for all of us involved.”

The ability to play during the snowy months of winter and early spring means much more than just playing with a scenic backdrop, a point reaffirmed by Head Baseball Coach Mike Leonard.

“We can play more home games on the new field,” Leonard announced to the group. “This year, we have a record number of home games.”

So far, the home-field advantage is paying off for the Panthers. The baseball team has capitalized on the new turf, earning a formidable 9–2 at home record on Forbes Field. The softball team has a 5–3 record on home soil, including a five-game winning streak that they put together from March 27 to April 7. With more games on campus than ever before, the Panthers are relishing the chance to not only play in front of home fans but also to play on familiar terrain, aiding both teams in their NESCAC charges.

The new fields have made more than just a tangible difference in the seasons of the baseball and softball teams. Head Softball Coach Kelly Bevere ’99 pointed out that the new facilities have impacted the daily lives of her athletes for the better. 

“The ability to start practices right after classes and labs are over at 4:30 instead of waiting until after 6 p.m, to practice inside has given our student-athletes more time for studying and proper nutrition,” Bevere explained.

The players appreciate the changes too. 

“It is hands down the nicest field I’ve ever played on,” Jewel Ashbrook ’24, a pitcher for the softball team wrote in an email to The Campus. 

Lucas Flemming ’24, an outfielder for the baseball team, was equally impressed.

“The renovations also make it feel like a stadium rather than just a field, which enhances the atmosphere for players and spectators” Flemming said.

The debut of the new baseball and softball fields marked the completion of a multi-year project to improve the facilities. After several years of fundraising, construction teams broke ground last summer and completed the new fields ahead of the 2024 season. 

“I want to give a big thank you to the facilities crew who did an amazing job,” Quinn said. 

The crew continues to maintain the field before and after games, correcting any imperfections in the turf to provide the Panthers with some of the finest fields in the NESCAC.

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Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.


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